How Does Netflix Categorize Movies?

What makes a Screwball Comedy different from a Slapstick Comedy? Why is Son of the Pink Panther considered a comedy at all? These decisions — at least as far as Netflix is concerned — are being made by a few dozen folks throughout North America who get paid to watch — and answer questions about — everything from Chinatown to Transylmania.

Canada.com’s Russ Martin spent the day with a woman who makes some part-time cash as a movie tagger for Netflix.

She says she gets a list each week from Netflix HQ to let her know which handful of titles (around five at a time) she is supposed to watch and help to categorize.

While watching, she uses a spreadsheet to take notes of all the info that goes into the 100+ data points used by Netflix to tag each title.

“It covers everything from big picture stuff like storyline, scene and tone, to details of whether there is a lot of smoking in the movie,” the part-time tagger explains.

Netflix now employs around 40 taggers in the U.S. and Canada.

“We’re looking for people who have knowledge of movies and TV shows,” explains Todd Yellin, vice-president of product innovation at Netflix. He explains that the woman in Canada is a good fit because she is not just an independent film maker, but has also worked as a script supervisor — a very detail-oriented gig.

Potential taggers must successfully pass a test before being hired.

Yellin tells Martin that he sometimes uses Wes Anderson’s stop-motion Roald Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr. Fox for the test because it’s a film that defies a lot of standard categorizing.

For their efforts, taggers earn a few hundred dollars a week.

How to get paid to watch Netflix [Canada.com via HackingNetflix.com]